With six months of the current cotton season (October 2012 to September 2013) over, the domestic textile industry feels that this year’s cotton imports may be higher than last year.

Apart from 355 lakh bales of domestic production in 2011-2012, cotton imports were 12 lakh bales. The textile mills consumed 244 lakh bales.

This year, demand from the domestic textile mills is high, with the mills consuming nearly 22 lakh bales a month. With cotton exports going up, an expected drop in domestic cotton production and fluctuation in prices, cotton imports may be higher, said S. Dinakaran, Chairman of Southern India Mills’ Association.

The Cotton Advisory Board (CAB), which met in January 2013 and will meet again on April 17, estimated production this season to be 330 lakh bales. The textile industry estimates domestic cotton production to be 320 lakh bales. The Cotton Association of India (CAI) expects it to be 351 lakh bales and the Indian Cotton Federation (ICF) expects it to be 326 lakh bales.

The textile mills estimate their consumption to be more than 260 lakh bales this year while the CAI has estimated domestic consumption to be 275 lakh bales.

Domestic prices

Domestic prices are between Rs. 38,000 and Rs. 39,000 a candy now. If the price of Indian cotton crosses Rs. 39,000 a candy, then international cotton will be cheaper and it becomes viable for the mills to import more. Mills are already importing medium and long staple cotton from Africa, according to trade and industry sources .